September 14, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 31.0%; plus Radio Tuesday, Dolphins beat Redskins 17-10, Fins on Forbes $$ list, Dee Gordon honored, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), farewell Sunday notes column & more


It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. Good morning!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. See the bottom of this blogpost for an explainer. 2) Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton on Friday's 44-20 Canes win. And see previous blogpost for first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM wins at FAU, CSM poll, Upset Bird Day in America, LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Marlins' Gordon honored, twice: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon received two nice award nominations today: For the Robert Clemente Award for sportsmanship, and for the MLBPA Marvin Miller Award. He's also still fighting (currently down seven points) for the NL batting title.

Dolphins mid-pack on franchise value list: Forbes' latest list has Dolphins as NFL's 16th-most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion. Click Money List for full rankings. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 31.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 17-10 Dolphins 1aa1adsmvictory at Washington. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Yearly DSM results:

2014: 2.7% (following 8-8 season)

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G1: DOLPHINS 17, WASHINGTON 10 (Final): SEASON OF (FAIRLY) GREAT EXPECTATIONS BEGINS WITH ROAD WIN: Final: Miami christens its 50th season right with 17-10 win at Washington. Reminded me a little of UM beating FAU the other night. Shaky early, but the better team emerging. Dolphins offense wasn't great today and defense was less than perfect against the run. But! Two interceptions by Miami's defense and a huge 69-yard punt-return score by Jarvis Landry made the difference. ..... Fourth Q: Miami stops a Skins 4th-and-7 from MIA 20. Fins in charge. ... Huge! McCain INT at Fins 2 denies a Skins threat. ... MIA with its first lead at 17-10 on Landry's 69-yard TD return of a punt. Money! ... Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Franks' short FG, but you gotta go into end zone on 4th and goal! MIA squanders red-zone chance to take lead. ... Third Q: Scoreless third, but Fins on the move. ... Oy! LT Albert injured, but walks off field on own, a good sign. ... Ugh. Tanny stripped of ball and loses fumble on half's opening series. ..... Dolfans Halftime: Dolfans should feel lucky to only be down 10-7. No cause for panic, but Fins must shore up their run defense in second half. ..... Second Q: Finally! Life for Fins! MIA within 10-7 on Tanny's 3y TD toss to Matthews just before half. ... Tanny misses a wide-open Stills. Hasn't been as accurate yet today as in preseason. ... Dolphins down 10-0 as defense beat up for 17-yard drive. Reed 3y TD catch over a fallen Jones ends series. ... Miami wastes the Grimes INT, denied on 4th-and-1 from Skins 12. Ballsy call; gave up an near-certain tying FG. ... TE Sims out injured trying to catch an end-zone overthrow by Tannehill. ... Grimes interception! MIA at WAS 21. ..... First Q: Olivier Vernon ankle injury; iffy return. ... Fins offense on field for only 5 plays in first quarter. Ugh. ... MIA catches small break in final seconds when Skins go wide right on 46y FG try. ... Fins fail to convert a 3rd-and-1. Not the opening quarter of Dolfans' dreams. ... Miami down 3-0 early is no worry. But the early run-defense is. ..... Pregame: I love that Your Friend The Media is making such a deal of Jarvis Landry and LaMike James having a minor shove-exchange four days ago. Zero bearing on what happens today. ..... Original post: As the Dolphins launch their 50th franchise season we bring you true math, NFL style: One season of unusually high hopes + one a bad opponent = one opener Miami really needs to win. The air would seep 1aa1adolredout of Dolfans' optimism like it does footballs on the Patriots sideline, only moreso, if Miami somehow falls flat today in Landover, Md. I doubt that happens. I'm sold on these Dolphins as a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill's multi-weaponed offense should not have a problem motoring and flying all over the field today, and the Ndamukong Suh-infused 1aa1adolredqbsdefense should make it a daytime nightmare for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. (Tannehill and Cousins are pictured left). See it as a comfy win, maybe even a rout. This isn't Bethune-Cookman to the Hurricanes as season openers go, but if there were gimmies in the NFL, Washington would be close to one. Now let's quantify why winning one's season opener is so important. Quick history lesson: Super Bowl winners were 39-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 26 times (61.5%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971. Join us back here during the game for a live running commentary.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open 50th season right at Washington: Miami’s season of unusually high hopes and uncommonly buoyant fan optimism opened Sunday with a 17-10 win over a Redskins team seen as not very good. We’ve seen the Dolphins live down to expectations a lot since their last playoff win in 2000. Now we see if they can live up to expectations for a change.

2. HURRICANES: UM surges late past FAU, awaits visit by Nebraska: Canes rallied from a second-half tie to win at FAU 44-20 in Howard Bowl II, leaving many fans displeased. Miami is 2-0, albeit vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Owls. UM's real season starts this coming Saturday at home vs. Nebraska. This is when Al Golden turns down the heat a little, or starts to feel it singe.

3. NFL: Win by Patriots (fittingly) opens King Sport's season: Patriots and Tom Brady won the last game in 2014 and the first in '15, with Deflategate talk book-ending both games but evidently not bothering either. Now we booked the first Sunday of the regular season -- a de facto national holiday in America. By the way, Roger Goodell came out of hiding in Chicago.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Opens ends without a Grand Slam by Serena: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for men's title Sunday, but the women's side was the talk of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams fell short of sport's first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, but another great story took its place as little-known Italian Flavia Pennetta, 33, won the Open and then retired, redefining "going out on top."

5. MARLINS: Jose's back, but it isn't looking good for Giancarlo: Jose Fernandez won Saturday in his return and is now 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. With this team though, the news is never all good. As Fish wrapped up homestand Sunday and now hit the road relegated to playing spoilers in a spoiled season, it's looking more and more like we won’t see Giancarlo Stanton again until Opening Day 2016.

6. HEAT: Riley really liking Heat roster as training camp nears: As Miami prepares to open its preseason training camp on Sept. 29, club prez Pat Riley said this week he thinks the Heat has "all the elements of a championship team." Hmm. That would be somewhat of a surprise to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who list Miami as the NBA’s ninth favorite at 40-1.

7. FIU: Hopes for second straight road upset wither in Indiana: After winning at Central Florida to open the season, FIU fell Saturday at Indiana 36-22. Glass half-full: Well, unbeaten for a week is better than not unbeaten for a week.

8. PANTHERS: NHL club to open training camp, exhibition play: Hockey's about back. The Panthers open training camp this Thursday and then play their first exhibition game next Sunday. This season, players swear, they'll make the playoffs. One of these years, by dumb luck, they may be right.

9. LEBRON JAMES: He's back in Miami. Temporarily: LeBron is Miami with several Cavaliers teammates this week for pre-training camp workouts. Heat fans aren’t sure whether to chase LeBron outta town with torches and pitchforks, or kidnap him and beg him to stay.

10. BOXING: Mayweather wins final (?) fight: Miamian Andre Berto lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather says it was his last fight. The national group, People Who Believe Him, meets tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Alex Rodriguez ties Hank Aaron with 15th 30-homer season. A-Rod’s steroids-free comeback year has been a marvel. The downside: Much tougher for me to make fun of him. ... R.I.P., Moses Malone. ... Speculation on the Marlins’ next manager heats up. The front-runner: Anybody but Dan Jennings. ... NBA will henceforth seed playoff teams by their records, not by division finish. The NFL would do that, too, but it makes too much sense. ... NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup begins next Sunday in Chicago, a nine-race tournament leading to the Nov. 22 championship race here. This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota. ... Just read about something called a trumpetfish. My first reaction? Donald Trump bought a species and named it after himself. ... Reds had a Pete Rose Bobblehead Night on Saturday. The Rose figurine bobbles its head and then places 100 large in the fifth race.

FAREWELL, RANDOM EVIDENCE: Random Evidence, my long-running, fun-seeking Sunday notes column after which this blog was named, ends with today's column (link above). That's because the Herald prefers I instead write a general sports column on Sundays moving forward to coincide with a dramatic redesign that will debut with this Wednesday's newspaper. Part of the notes column still will run on Sundays in print: Our weekly Top 5 list. Many of the other notes I once saved for Sundays I'll now write throughout the week on Twitter or in this blog, so rest assured our followers @gregcote and our blog family won't miss a thing. My innate need to poke gentle fun at Jeffrey Loria and others will not be denied! Meanwhile we'll continue to have the Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in the blog (sort of our Top 5 list on steroids), and Sunday's Hot List from the paper will become a blog feature starting next week. You got all that!?

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 10, 2015

LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results. Who picked the best team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Patriots-Steelers pick, Upset Bird Countdown (1 day), new 'Weighing The Fish,' verdict on Serena & more


1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Today I research and write the season-debut of the Friday NFL predictions page. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Serena Williams G.O.A.T. poll, Howard Schnellenberger what-if, Breakfast with LeBatard, Riley speaks, debut of SOPY rankings, Marlins '16 home schedule, Stephen Colbert, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Patriots-Steelers pick: One day ahead of our Friday Page launch, today we offer our pick on tonight's Steelers-at-Patriots NFL season opener. Click on Kicking It Off for the full predix capsule. 

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix

1aa1acardsstl 1aa1a1the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11 -- tomorrow -- and we've been doing a 10-day countdown. This year's theme: Bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. And today, at No. 1: St. Louis Cardinals, born 1900! [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3--Chicago Blackhawks/'26; #2--Arizona Cardinals/'20].

LEBATARD RADIO SHOW FANTASY DRAFT: WHO PICKED THE BEST TEAM?: We did a similar blind poll a few weeks ago after my family-league fantasy draft, and you all voted my team, Greg's Lobos, No. 1. 1aa1adanshow 1aa1adanshowdraftWill I be as lucky again here? This blind vote involves the 10-team LeBatard radio show fantasy draft that took place online yesterday. After the vote we'll tell you who's with what team and thus who you voted best to worst. League members are LeBatard, Stugotz, Mike Ryan, me, Allyson, Charlie, Roy, Billy, Chris and Papi. That of course is not the order of teams in the poll. Teams are listed by draft order in a standard PPR league. Vote for who made the most of his or her first four picks -- which team you'd most want based on the names you see.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (140 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 140 games (at 59-81):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @130

1  Dee Gordon                  462.6    1

2  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   3

3  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

4  Martin Prado              345.9    4

5  Christian Yelich         323.2   5

6  Jacob Realmuto         315.0   6

7  Justin Bour                 302.1    8

8  Marcell Ozuna            292.2   7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              239.3   9

10  Derek Dietrich          212.2   10

11  Cole Gillespie            150.7   11

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 5.

Poll result: Strong support for Serena as G.O.A.T.: We asked if you think Serena Williams is the greatest of all-time in women's tennis, and 61.2 percent said yes while another 15.9% said not yet but headed there. The remaining 22.9% said no.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 09, 2015

Serena Williams is the G.O.A.T. Isn't she? New poll. Vote now!; plus Upset Bird Countdown (2 days), Stephen Colbert, playing what-if with Schellenberger, Marlins 2016 home schedule, Riley on Heat, LeBatard to a.m., SOPY Week 1 rankings & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9. Marlins Park will host teams from Venezuela and Dominican Republic Nov. 21-22 in the first 'Serie de las Americas' tournament. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, the next-to-last that will appear in the print edition, meaning the newspaper. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Game 1 poll and results, Hot Button Top 10, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1acolbertOn Stephen Colbert: His debut last night helming CBS' Late Show was uneven and found him seeming a bit nervous, as you'd expect. The interviews with George Clooney and Jeb Bush weren't great. Some of the bits failed. Make no mistake, though: Colbert is a smart comedic genius or close enough for me, his band is great, and the show will be terrific. Give it time to breathe.


UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 2 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions 1aa1aazcards 1aa1a2in 1aa1afripix

the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. Today, at No. 2: Arizona Cardinals, born 1920. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3Chicago Blackhawks/'26].

SERENA: G.O.A.T. (GREATEST OF ALL TIME)?: Compelling. Watching Serena Williams defeat her sister Venus 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the U.S. Open last night was great sports, great TV, great theater. I have seldom seen Venus play better; not for years, anyway. Neither have I seen Serena more intense in a match vs. 1aa1aserenawher sister -- a passion she needed to keep alive her dream of accomplishing the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Winning the Open this week would also tied Graf's 22 career Grand Slam titles for second all-time, trailing only Margaret Court's 24. Serena, who lives in Palm Beach, will turn 34 on Sept. 26. She is a marvel, a rarity -- playing her best tennis, at this age. I think she will surpass Court and make it mathematically official but, for me, that isn't required. For me, right now, Serena is the greatest women's player of all time. Some of it may be generational (athletes are just better now). Just as it's hard to imagine Bill Russell defending Shaq, it's hard to imagine Chris Evert dealing with Serena's physical game and power. I doubt most will agree with me that Serena is the G.O.A.T. A fraction of the resistance may be racial. I think most of it is simply that Serena is not the easiest athlete to like. She has some diva in her, some temper. But that is part of her game, too. Gives her some of her swagger. In any case, take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: THE ULTIMATE GAME OF "WHAT IF...": Call it Schnellenberger Week in South Florida, with FAU hosting the Miami Hurricanes this Friday night in a battle of the two football programs he built from scratch (Owls) or saved and made powerful (Canes). The occasion was bigger, 1aa1ahow1 1aa1ahow2more historic, in 2013 when these schools met for the first time, but I'll take any opportunity to appreciate Schnellenberger, now 81. (Some may recall my column from Aug. 5 promoting the man for the college Hall of Fame; click on Howard Deserves the Hall to read). This week invites the ultimate game of "What If," Miami sports edition. What if Schnellenberger had never left UM, after that '83 national championship, to pursue that ill-fated Miami USFL job that never materialized? Wouldn't at least some of those subsequent four UM national titles been on his watch? Isn't it very possible he'd have become Miami's Bobby Bowden -- the long-serving Canes coach Miami never has managed in its modern era? Howard is reluctant to admit regrets about leaving UM when he did. "If I had the same group of facts I would have made the same decision a second time," he says. But, with hindsight 20/20, the regret seeps through when he adds, "Common sense says we probably would have been able to continue in the direction we were going, which would include some [additional] championships." Bottom line: "I make a decision and I live with it," he says. And here's the glass, half-full, not empty: Had Howard stayed at UM, he might never have gone on to resurrect the Louisville program or start the one at FAU -- the one with the great little 30,000-seat stadium that is hosting Friday's game because Schnellenberger saw it built. Pictured are two of Schnellenberger's lasting monuments: UM's first national championship, and FAU's campus stadium.  

1aa1adanshowBREAKFAST WITH LEBATARD!: The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz made its ballyhooed move from afternoons to mornings yesterday, debuting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. No me, though. I'm the regular Tuesday guest-host, but the show wanted the new-time debut to be feature regulars only, no guest host. My ego had a slight bruise, but I was a little upset totally understood!

Heat's Riley sort of not quite says he has a championship roster: On LeBatard yesterday Heat president Pat Riley said, "This team has all of the elements of a championship team." And, "This team has the opportunity and the possibilities of being a contender. I’m excited about this season." Um, but Pat also said: "You know what I’m going to say. I was a coach, and if I had five guys off the street, I would say we could win a championship. That’s either my naivete' or competitive will."

MARLINS COMPLETE 2016 HOME SCHEDULE: Miami will open the season at home with two games vs 1aa1abbmarlinsthe Detroit Tigers next April 5-6. The complete 81-game home schedule: APRIL: 5-6 vs. Tigers; 15-17 vs. Braves; 18-21 vs. Nationals. MAY: 3-5 vs. Diamondbacks; 6-8 vs. Phillies; 9-11 vs. Brewers; 20-22 vs. Nationals; 23-24 vs. Rays; 30-31 vs. Pirates. JUNE: 1-2 vs. Pirates; 3-5 vs. Mets; 17-20 vs. Rockies; 21-22 vs. Braves; 23-26 vs. Cubs. JULY: 8-10 vs. Reds; 11-14: All-Star Break; 22-24 vs. Mets; 25-27 vs. Phillies; 28-31 vs. Cardinals. AUGUST: 8-10 vs. Giants; 12-14 vs. White Sox; 23-25 vs. Royals; 26-28 vs. Padres. SEPTEMBER: 5-7 vs. Phillies; 9-11 vs. Dodgers; 19-21 vs. Nationals; 22-25 vs. Braves; 26-28 vs. Mets.

SOPY: FAU'S JOHNSON TAKES EARLY LEAD IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Welcome back to the fourth season of 1aa1asopy 1aa1ajjohnsonour blog's SOPY: State Offensive Player of the Year -- our weekly rankings of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams. This is a cumulative ranking that encompasses Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Our Week 1 leader is Jacquez Johnson (pictured), the dual-threat FAU Owls QB the Hurricanes will face in Boca Raton this Friday. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 1:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 1

Rk      Player, team-pos.                W1/Season

1        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      240.5

2        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                 181

3        Everett Golson, FSU-qb            175

4        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                155

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb      151.5

6        Greg Howell, FAU-rb                 150

7        Alex McGough, FIU-qb              148

8t       Will Grier, Florida-qb                143

8t       Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb             143

10       Treon Harris, Florida-qb          142.5

Bubble: Justin Holman, UCF-qb, 140.5. Other team leader: Rashawn Scott, Miami-wr, 106. Season best: Johnson, FAU-qb, 240.5, Week 1. Note: All teams 1 game each.

SOPY Champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (1-0); 2. Florida (1-0); 3. Miami (1-0); 4. South Florida (1-0); 5. FIU (1-0); 6. UCF (0-1); 7. FAU (0-1).

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 07, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 62.3%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Hurricanes, Dolphins, Brady, Marlins, Serena, Heat, FIU; also Upset Bird Countdown (4 days) & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Happy Labor Day, fellow workers! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, the next-to-last that will appear in the print edition, meaning the newspaper. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes rout Bethune in opener, College Week 1, Izzy Gutierrez tells the truth, Dan Marino makes wine, Dolphins' cut day, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 4 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions 1aa1afripix

1aa1a4 1AA1AEAGLESPHILin the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. Today, at No. 4: Philadelphia Eagles, born 1933. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51].

SOPY!: Watch for season's first weekly SOPY ranking here Tuesday/tomorrow in the blog. That's our college football State Offensive Player of the Year rankings encompassing FLA's seven FBS teams.

Small opponent, but big opener: Click on Canes Catch Lightning for my column off Saturday's 45-0 Hurricanes season-opening home win over Bethune-Cookman. 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 62.3%: Results are certified official in our season's first Canesfan Satisfaction 1aa1acsmMeter postgame polls -- and they show 62.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's season-opening 45-0 victory over visiting Bethune-Cookman. Overall satisfaction is a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 11 a.m. today/Monday.

Interpreting the Week 1 results: A low-60s approval rating is unusually low following a win as convincing as 45-0. Three factors were in play. 1) The "it was only Bethune" caveat; 2) lingering hangover of last year's 6-7 season; and 3) an organized effort late in the voting cycle that stuffed the ballot box with "very dissatisfied" votes and pushed the overall approval rating down from what otherwise would have been in the 75 range.

2015 CSM Results

Week 1: 62.3% overall satisfaction (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Next poll: Friday night (following game at Florida Atlantic)

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HURRICANES: Lightning strikes! UM routs Bethune-Cookman in opener: Small opponent, big opener as Al Golden Year 5 launched Saturday night with a 45-0 rout of Bethune-Cookman. The game was delayed 75 minutes by lightning, after which the Canes scored three quick TDs to bust it open. UM plays FAU this Friday, after which the real season will start.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins cut roster to 53, open next Sunday: You know it's a boring Cut Day when biggest news is Andrew Franks unseating Caleb Sturgis as the kicker. Dolphins now prepare to open season next Sunday at Washington. First six QBs Miami faces will be Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, rookie Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer. And you wonder why Fins cornerbacks are smiling!?

3. NFL: Brady freed as Patriots-Steelers kick off season Thursday night: The federal court overturned Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension, meaning the Patriots star QB is free to play Thursday night as New England host Steelers to open season. Things could only be going worse for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if he'd turned up on that list of outed Ashley Madison infidelity clients.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Few upsets as Week 1 launches: Unanimous No. 1 Ohio State plays tonight, but Kickoff Saturday saw few notable upsets, with No. 15 Arizona State the highest-ranked team to lose. That's because most big schools open with cupcake opponents (see UM-Bethune, FSU-Texas State and Florida-New Mexico State).

5. MARLINS: We’re (still) on Stanton Watch as homestand begins: Been a lousy season, yes, but at least Marlins had won five of past six entering today and climbed to third in NL East as fans continued to await Giancarlo Stanton’s return from a wrist injury -- a return now uncertain. Plus, Friday was Star Wars Night! Meantime it was reported Dan Jennings would not return as manager in 2016. SHOCKING!

6. TENNIS: Can anyone stop Serena at U.S. Open?: A man was arrested when his drone crashed into stands of U.S. Open. He teaches at New York’s Academy of Innovative Technology — but evidently needs lessons on how to operate said technology. Meanwhile Serena Williams (who faces sister Venus next) continues seemingly destined for sport’s first calendar Grand Slam since 1988. No woman can stop her. Might take a drone strike.

7. HEAT: All 5 starters make NBA Top 100 list: As the Heat prepare to open training camp in a few weeks, all five starters made Sports Illustrated’s NBA Top 100, with Chris Bosh ranked 22nd, Dwyane Wade 30th, Goran Dragic 42nd, Luol Deng 56th and Hassan Whiteside 69th. Don’t feel too bad for Wade slipping. I needed a miner’s helmet and a pickaxe to find Kobe Bryant all the way down at 54.

8. FIU: Panthers open with big upset win at UCF: Thursday night’s 15-14 win over Central Florida makes this the first time since 2004 that FIU is 1-0 after a season-opening road victory. Panthers fans are thrilled — both of them! Whoa. Ouch. Too mean? OK, how’s this for a deal, FIU fans: Y’all sell out a home game, just one, and I’ll stop making fun.

9. RADIO: LeBatard radio show moves to mornings starting Tuesday: The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and locally on 790 The Ticket moves to the 9 a.m.-to-1 p.m. time slot starting tomorrow/Tuesday. I happen to be a weekly co-host on the show, but that most certainly is not why I put this in this week’s Hot Button Top 10. Wait. Of course it is. Who am I kidding?

10. THE UPSET BIRD: Friday Page NFL picks are back this Friday: Greg Cote's 25th season of Friday NFL predictions in the Miami Herald debut this Friday. Hey, wait. That's me! The creepy yet occasionally prescient Upset Bird will be back on the page as well. "Aaaawwwk!"\

Missing the HB10 cut: Labor Day, when we celebrate the American work force by not working. ... Dan Marino is partner in a Washington State vineyard called Passing Time that just issued its first cabernet sauvignon. It has subtle notes of raspberry, cocoa and a former athlete looking for a new revenue stream. ... Florida Panthers and Eastern Airlines have partnered on a private charter jet for road trips. The Panthers are a first-class organization. If only they were a first-place organization. ... Shannon Briggs won a fight at the Hard Rock in Hollywood last night, settling the question of whether Shannon Briggs was still boxing. ... Former Italian soccer star Alessandro Nesta is the new coach of Miami FC, the NASL expansion team. When the team says it wants to draw fans from as far away as Naples, I guess they meant Italy. ... Former UM receiver and Dolphins No. 1 draft pick Randal Hill is running for the U.S. Congress in Miami. Old nickname: Thrill Hill. New nickname: Thrill on Capitol Hill. ... UFC star Ronda Rousey accepted an invitation to the Marine Corps Ball as the date of a Philadelphia soldier. He’ll be a perfect gentleman, or she’ll beat the !@#$ out of him. ... On a serious note, ESPN's Israel Gutierrez reveals he is gay and getting married. Congrats, Izzy. ... Finally, in entertainment news, Miley Cyrus shocked onlookers by showing up at an event fully clothed.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

August 30, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Canes, Marlins, FIU, LLWS, tennis, horses, Scully; plus latest 'Weighing The Fish,' Fins fantasy ranks, escaping Cone of Doom & more


1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 31. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with onset of college football. 2) Backup Kirk Cousins reportedly will start for Redskins in Sept. 13 season opener vs. Dolphins. That doesn't help Miami. Such is the state of Robert Griffin III. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Twitter study finds Heat dominating local teams on social media, Gronkowskis = Kardashians, Serena wins pole position & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afiuronturnerFIU football: Turner's tall task: I probably don't write about FIU enough but for me it's a chicken-or-egg thing; unless you're a Kardashian, you have to earn the attention you get. Anyway, in my latest column I write why FIU's Ron Turner (pictured) has the toughest coaching job in South Florida. Click on Attitude Adjustment, Culture Makeover to read.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' special section: ICYMI, the Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50"

coverage, commemorating
the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season, arrived in the Old Classic print version
yesterday and remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, my main column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, my list of the 50 top figures (not just players!) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my conversations with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have an added Shula-by-the-numbers column not in the original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS to read.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Reminding you our Dolphins postgame DSM polls will be back in the blog again this year, but starting with the regular season on Sept. 13.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated on Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill, starting D sharp again as Fins win preseason home debut: Miami is only 1-2 in exhibitions after Saturday's 13-9 win over Atlanta (game blog and postgame thoughts below), but the starting units look season-ready entering this coming Thursday's preseason finale vs. Tampa Bay. Based on August, Tannehill may be fast-climbing fantasy draft boards. (But the whisper remains: Can we trust August?)

2. HURRICANES: College football arrives! UM loses top RB with opener less than a week away: Coach Al Golden's Hurricanes, who open the season this coming Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman, suffered a big blow with the news that expected starting running back Gus Edwards would miss the season with a foot injury. It's one more reason to doubt the Canes. If doubt is fuel, UM has a full tank in '15.

3. MARLINS: Stanton return from injury now on horizon: Fish have lost nine of past 12 to continue The Lost Season, but at least slugger Giancarlo Stanton is close. Marlins begin an extended homestand on Friday and Stanton figures to return sometime during it. Meantime, the club gives indications it might move the fences in next year. Giving Stanton shorter fences is like giving Bill Gates a raise.

4. FIU: Panthers open football season on road in three days: FIU begins its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner on Thursday at UCF. Turner seems to be making progress in turning around the Panthers program. The question now is whether hair-trigger FIU athletic director Pete Garcia will give him time to finish the job.

5. LITTLE LEAGUE: Japan beats U.S. for world title: The U.S. champion (Pennsylvania) squandered a 10-2 lead and lost to Japan on Sunday in the International final of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. By the way, a boy named Alex Edmondson pitched two no-hitters during the LLWS but you probably didn’t hear about it because, unfortunately for him, his name wasn’t Mo’Ne Davis.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open starts today with all eyes on Serena: For the first time ever the women’s final has sold out before the men’s as fans anticipate Serena Williams completing the sport’s first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Now Serena's path is even easier with the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova. It almost isn't unfair. They should make Serena use a badminton racket.

7. HORSES: American Pharoah shocking loser at Travers: Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a 1-5 favorite, lost to longshot Keen Ice at the historic Travers at Saratoga on Saturday. (Note to most of America: Yes, there are horse races other than the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont). 

8. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers broadcaster says he isn't done yet: Scully, who'll be 88 in November, said he would return next season for a 67th and final year broadcasting the Dodgers games. Put it this way: When last somebody else called Dodgers games, the president was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

9. LEBRON JAMES: Ex-Heater sells Coconut Grove home: LeBron sold his 12,178-square-foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion (including a theater and wine cellar) for $13.4 million. The question now: Do I redecorate?

10. DARRYL DAWKINS: Beloved ex-NBA stars dies: R.I.P. to the dunk specialist they called "Chocolate Thunder," who died at 58. The good news? I won big. As soon as I heard the news, I immediately invested in lame media references to "dunking in heaven."

Missing the HB10 cut: Tropical storm Erika turned out to be no threat to South Florida, despite local meteorologists' best efforts to scare us into panic mode. ..... Refurbished Dolphins stadium debuts. It looks good. If only it weren't 11,000 seats smaller. ..... Lawyers for NFL and Tom Brady are due back Monday for latest round of arguments. If this “Deflategate” morass were any more ridiculous, they’d move it from federal court to Vaudeville. ..... Marlins honor Dontrelle Willis but he's a no-show. Club president David Samson calls himself "flummoxed," becoming first sports figure since 1959 to use word "flummoxed." ..... Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian profanely addresses boosters and fans while drunk. ..... Cris Carter apologizes for telling players at NFL Rookie Symposium they should have a “fall guy” to help them avoid trouble. An alternate piece of advice he might have been: Stay out of trouble so you don’t need a “fall guy.” ..... Now-retired former Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin revealed he has contemplated suicide, seriously impinging my ability to make fun of him.

DOLPHINS 13, ATLANTA 9 (FAUX-GAME 3): THIS ONE COUNTED! (OK, NOT REALLY. BUT SORT OF): FINAL: Encouragingly, this was the third game in a row Miami's offensive and defensive starters outplayed the other team and performed very well. These units look season-ready. This time a win resulted for a 1-2 exhibition record, but it's the play of the main units that should have Dolfans nearly giddy. Tannehill tonight was 15-for-19 for 145 yards and a TD, Jarvis Landry looked good, and the defense was terrific, including six sacks. All of ATL's points came off Miami miscues. More importantly, coach Joe Philbin indicated after the game he did not think center Mike Pouncey's knee injury was a concern. In terms of roster spots last tonight, rookie kicker Andrew Franks may have drawn even with Caleb Sturgis. And I'd no longer be surprised if Josh Freeman edged Matt Moore for the backup QB role. ..... Fourth Quarter: MIA fumble recovery with 1:21 left at own 18 preserves win. ... Four-point late lead on rookie Franks' 51-yard FG. ... MIA recovers fumble with 4:13 left. ... More rain; not many fans still at Joe's Place. ... Third-string QB Josh Freeman looking pretty good, at wheel for 10-9 lead finished by 32Y FG by rookie Andrew Franks with 7 minutes to play. Longshot Franks stays in the competition with incumbent Caleb Sturgis for the PK job. ... ATL up 9-7. All Falcons points have followed Dolphins miscues. ... Matt Moore intercepted and 43Y return have Falcons poised to take lead. ..... Third Quarter: Goalline stand by backup defense preserves lead in scoreless third. ... Looks like second half will be reserves. Once again, for third game preseason game in a row, starters performed wel. ..... Half: Modest 7-6 lead but Dolphins very impressive overall. Tannehill 15-19 for 145 yards and a TD before giving way to Moore, Jarvis Landry 6 catches for 84 yards, and defense keeping Falcons punter busy. ATL's only points set up by a muffed Miami punt snap and a turnover. ..... Second quarter: ATL within 7-6 on 50Y field goal after late turnover. ... Matt Moore replaces Tannehill late in half. ... Center Mike Pouncey out with knee injury but does not seem serious. Questionable return but doubt he does as a precaution. ... MIA 7-0 on Rishard Matthews short TD pass from Tannehill. ..... First Quarter: Jarvis Landry 45-yard catch and run wakes up crowd. ... Late 1Q but Miami already subbing on defense, several starters already out.  ... Falcs parlay field position into 43-yard FG and 3-0 lead, but Fins defense looking good. ... Rain starts. Bad snap leads to muffed Dolphins pun after a couple of dropped passes. ... Quick ATL punt. DT Earl Mitchell playing like, "Suh, who?" ... Miami punt to open game. ... Pregame: Sparse crowd. Stadium improvements look good but fans aren't dumb. It's still a glorified practice game ... Hullo? Is this mic on? We'll be live-blogging the game here tonight and then have a postgame mini-column. ..... Original post: Atlanta Falcons here tonight in Miami's third exhibition game and, yes, it matters a little bit. A few reasons why and 1aa1abigdealother thoughts entering tonight: 1) Home debut, like-new stadium: It's the 2015 home debut of a Dolphins team that has a buzz about it, and in a refurbished stadium that also will look and feel new. A fall-flat performance would be a letdown. Especially because... 2) Playing to win: After two earlier losses in which the starters played well, but briefly, Miami will actually play to win for the first time, in a "dress rehearsal" game that figures to see the starters play much more. Atlanta has been 4-12 and 6-10 the past two seasons, so, yes, a loss tonight to go 0-3 would hurt in a way the past two did not. 3) Can't play scared: They'll balance the want to win with staying healthy. Since Ryan Tannehill and most other starters likely won't even play in next week's preseason finale, a key injury tonight is the worst fear. However! Reject the scared notion that Tannehill shouldn't play at all because of that 1aa1ahelmet testfear. He needs the added work behind his line, with his mostly new receivers, and against a live defense. You don't approach a game with your tail between your legs. 4) The offensive line: Seeking progress from an offensive line in flux due to both injuries and the questions at guard. Tonight guard Dallas Thomas likely will start at left tackle ... so be alert and nimble, Tannehill! 5) Position battles: In addition to the guard play, Walt Aikens is the heir to injured Louis Delmas' safety job. Is he up to the task? We may see tonight, as the Falcons' Matt Ryan will offer the best passing attack Miami has yet faced. Kicker Caleb Sturgis also must button-down his role tonight or risk still losing it. Bonuses: Interesting piece on coach Joe Philbin this week on Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback site; click here to read). Finally, pictured left, apropos of nothing, a prototype football helmet being tested as the wearer heaves himself into a wall, circa 1912. Evidently no concussion concerns back then.

WEIGHING THE FISH (130 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse but included Cole Gillespie even though he is one at-bat shy at 129). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 130 games (at 52-78):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @120

1  Dee Gordon                  430.9    1

2  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   358.0   3

4  Martin Prado              308.1    6

5  Christian Yelich         286.3   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         286.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            264.2   8

8  Justin Bour                 260.6    7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              228.6   9

10  Derek Dietrich          195.1   10

11  Cole Gillespie            140.1   --

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 4.

1aa1alamarmillerDOLPHINS' IN FANTASY RANKINGS:'s official and final Top 300 fantasy rankings (click here for full list) includes 11 Dolphins, though none are pegged higher than what would be the third round in most drafts. The Fins listed, in order: 29th--RB Lamar Miller (pictured); 65th--WR Jarvis Landry; 87th--TE Jordan Cameron; 113th--WR DeVante Parker; 136th--RB Jay Ajayi; 142nd--Dolphins defense; 148th--QB Ryan Tannehill; 181st--RB Damien Williams; 191st--PK Caleb Sturgis; 197th--WR Kenny Stills; and 232nd--WR Greg Jennings. Quick thought: I think Tannehill, the 11th-ranked QB, could be somebody's draft steal. 

METEROLOGISTS SECRETLY DOWNTRODDEN AS SOUTH FLORIDA EVADES ERIKA'S CONE OF DOOM: Erika, the tropical storm, evidently not only won't become a hurricane but will be downgraded to a depression, or perhaps even a stiff breeze. This is good 1aa1acanestvfor South Florida, but bad of course for the people who sell plywood, ice, batteries and such. It's also bad for local TV meteorologists, who sell panic and at every opportunity foment an anxiety that leads to comically premature preparation. We'll probably get some rain and maybe some barely strong winds late Sunday into Monday. That's it. Am I making fun of hurricanes or the preparation for them. No! Certainly not on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina. Real hurricanes must be taken seriously. I am making fun of local TV weather people over-dramatizing every threat. I am picturing disappointed meteorologists downtrodden today, likely drinking heavily as they wistfully picture themselves beachside filming heroically in front of wind-whipped Stop signs.

Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more


1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:


5.1%: Team 1 ( 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 16, 2015

Shula at 85: An unabashed appreciation of Miami's great, iconic coach; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, Canes, Heat, Jason Day, Ichiro, tennis; also fashionista Serena, Christmas verdict & more


1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 17. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) Click on A Lot To Like for my previous column off the Dolphins preseason opener. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins drop preseason opener at Chicago, NBA keeps ruining Christmas, tennis sex scandal, Colin Cowherd beer & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"Marcell Ozuna, back with the Marlins, said of his demotion to Triple A, 'It's like a jail.' Dude. Please. Try to fake a little self-awareness, would you?" --Greg Cote

CELEBRATING DON SHULA: As the Miami Dolphins turn 50 this season, the franchise's great coach and icon is a regal 85 now, 20 years off the sideline and out of the game but still sharp and going strong in retirement. Recently
1aa1adoshulaI sat down with Shula for an extensive interview at his home, in a den filled with his career's memorabilia. Journalists are supposed to be neutral, dispassionate. I don't claim or attempt such things when it comes to Shula. I admire the man. What he accomplished, and who he is. I have an in-depth column on Shula in today's Miami Herald on page 1A, a column that is not yet available online but will be starting Tuesday. For now, click on DON SHULA for a video from our retrospective interview; Shula is pictured from during that conversation. Shula talks about perfection, his career, his regrets and more. He even talks about the man who replaced him, the coach he called "Jimmy Who." (Thanks to our online and video folks for their excellent work. My only quibble: the extreme closeups of me. Gawd! I am un-telegenic and old. I demand a far angle and a soft focus! Anyway...) My Shula video and accompanying column begin the rollout of the Herald's ongoing coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming Golden Anniversary season. The package will also include videos of my extensive interviews with defensive legends Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor. Click here for a brief sneak preview of the Thomas video.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 16): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Starters impressive despite loss in exhibition opener: As Dolphins prepare for their annual kickoff luncheon tomorrow/Tuesday, the limitlessness of possibilities was redefined in the preseason opener as Dolfans discovered it was possible to be generally pleased after a game in which Miami lost at Chicago 27-10 while committing 12 penalties and four turnovers. The starters looked great. For mid-August, that’s enough.

2. MARLINS: Lost year as Fernandez, Yelich join Stanton on disabled list: Fish have won four of past five after winning in St. Louis last night but the season was beyond hope, and now Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich have joined Giancarlo Stanton on the DL. Interim manager Dan Jennings said of this season, “Thank God there’s no Prohibition in baseball.” It’s disappointed fans who could use a drink.

3. HURRICANES: Countdown 19 days as UM prepares for opener: Canes held their first scrimmage, but it was closed to fans and media. (If a scrimmage falls on campus but nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?) Miami’s Sept. 5 opener against Bethune-Cookman had better require little more exertion than that intrasquad scrimmage, or the Canes could be in trouble.

4. HEAT: NBA schedule out; Miami hosts Christmas game again: The Heat opens play at home Oct. 28 in Chris Bosh’s comeback, and visits LeBron James in Cleveland two days later. Also notable: A Christmas home game against New Orleans. Bah humbug. NBA should take that sacred holiday off but instead will play a record five games. Jesus!

5. GOLF: Jason Day wins PGA Championship, year’s final major: Jason Day finally won a major by capturing the PGA Championship in Wisconsin, but, once again, Tiger Woods couldn’t find the map to Sunday, missing the cut for the fourth time in his past five majors. Remember when Tiger was thrilling to watch? Now it’s closer to sad.

6. AL GOLDEN: UM coach ranked No.1 on hot-seat list: Canes' Al Golden is a dubious No. 1 on’s preseason list of the 10 “hottest coaching seats” in college football. I don’t want to exaggerate Golden’s unpopularity with fans, though. He isn't Jeffrey Loria. Also, even his biggest critics surely like Golden more than, for example, that Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion. Probably.

7. NFL: Only the Jets! Sucker-punch breaks Geno Smith's jaw: Embattled Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith is sidelined half the season with a broken jaw after being punched by teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali, who immediately was cut. Worst part? Jets fans weren’t sure whether to call Smith’s injury good news or bad.

8. TOM BRADY: Federal suit over Deflate gate still unsettled: The Patriots QB's federal court case against the NFL over his four-game Deflategate suspension has yet to settle. Meanwhile the courtroom sketch artist was ridiculed nationally for her rendition of Brady that was unflattering. Check that, the artist was ridiculed in New England, but hailed as a modern-day da Vinci elsewhere.

9. ICHIRO: No. No, he did not surpass Ty Cobb in career hits!: It keeps getting reported that the Marlins' Ichiro Suzuki just surpassed Ty Cobb's 4,189 hits for second on the all-time list. But that's only if you count his hits in Japan, which MLB does not and never has. In fact, Ichiro still trails Cobb by more than 1,200 hits.

10. TENNIS: Love triangle on tour?: Tennis pro Nick Krygios was fined $10,000 by the ATP tour for telling opponent Stan Wawrinka during a match that another player was, um, ah, engaged in carnal knowledge with Wawrinka’s girlfriend, who also is a touring pro. Well, there goes that Kyrgios-Wawrinka doubles partnership!

Missing the HB10 cut: A Milwaukee Brewers minor-leaguer has revealed he is gay. Um, when do we get to stop caring about stuff like that? ... Bills sign Jets sucker-puncher. ... Dolphins owner Stephen Ross invests in Drone Racing League. Will play-calls now get from sideline to huddle via drone? ... American teen Katie Ledecky wins five golds at world swimming championship in Russia. ... Tigers' Al Avila (from Hialeah High) becomes MLB’s first Cuban-born general manager. ... Floyd Mayweather Jr. announces his final fight before retiring would be Sept. 12, with no date set yet for his final fight after that one. ... Adidas is paying James Harden $200 million to wear its sneakers. No, seriously. ... FIFA said it has opened an internal investigation into corruption. That’s like the Mafia investigating organized crime. ... Little League World Series begins this week despite no Mo'ne Davis. ... Finally, the national gymnastics championships end today in Indiana, where Miami’s Danell Leyva hoped to perform a parallel bars maneuver so groundbreaking that, if successful, it would be named after him. I can relate. In sports writing, someone who writes  a slapdash column is said to have "nailed a Cote."

1aa1aserenamagSERENA, FASHIONISTA: We've poked fun at Palm Beach tennis superstar Serena Williams over the years. She
1aa1aserenamag2can come off as arrogant, a real diva. She has indulged various side interests that have seemed to diminish her attention to tennis at times. Respect, though, must be given. She is chasing history, the career record for most majors won. She may be the greatest women's player ever. Yet steadfastly she maintains her outside interests, such as clothes design. Pictured, Serena adorns the cover of the new New York magazine fashion issue, once again living -- and winning -- by her own rules.

Poll result: Split opinions on NBA, Heat playing Christmas Day: In the previous blogpost we asked what you thought of the Heat hosting a Christmas game, and it was 46.9 percent opposed, 45.7% in favor and 7.4% undecided.

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August 14, 2015

PS1: @Chicago 27, Dolphins 10 (Final): Forget the score. Dolfans should be more encouraged than discouraged. My postgame thoughts; plus why is NBA ruining Christmas? New poll. Vote!; also Fins playoff likelihood, tennis sex scandal & more


1aa1acolinbeer1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 14. Defrocked ESPN voice Colin Cowherd now has his own beer. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding. Click on image at left to see enlarged version. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Mayweather-Rousey poll, complete Heat schedule, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins' next manager, latest 'Back In My Day,' Drone Racing League, Joe Goodman, MNF broadcasters list & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1abuffettHey, waaaiiit a minute, Jimmy!: I thought Jimmy Buffett was our guy!? Mr. Key West, Mr. Landshark, a Heat fan, Fins Up, all that. Wasn't Buffett assumed to be a Dolphins fan too? Well, hmm. Here's Jimmy pictured today attending a Saints practice, standing beside former Dolphins and now Saints PR guy Fitz Ollison. Say it ain't so, Jim!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year -- but not tonight or during the preseason. They begin with the regular season. 

Fins playoff shot guesstimated at 44%:, an analytics site, has its AFC East preview out today (read here) and predicts Miami for second in the division behind the Patriots. It puts Dolphins' playoff shot at 44.2 percent, with a 24.4% shot to be division champ and a wins over/under of 8.4. 

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS: FOOTBALL'S BACK!: Final thoughts--This may strike some as strange after a 27-10 loss pockmarked by four turnovers, but I'd think Dolphins fans ought not be real disappointed right now. When it was Ryan Tannehill out there, and Ndamukong Suh on the other side -- when it was the Miami starters vs. Chicago's starters -- Miami looked very good. It was the backups and scrubs who squandered the early lead and the win. That suggests Miami's depth may be suspect. But if you judge this game, as you should, by how Miami looked at its best, the night was more encouraging than discouraging. ..... 4Q--Freeman INT is Miami's fourth turnover. Ugh. ... Dolphins scrubs give up 54Y scoring run for 27-10 score. MIA has done nothing since the starters went out. ... Josh Freeman in at QB for Miami. ... Oy! Bethel-Thompson (soon to be a former Dolphin) is intercepted again, leads to  Bears FG and 20-10 score. ..... 3Q--Bethel-Thompson intercepted to put Dolphins lead in peril. Sure enough, CHI coverts for TD run and two-point conversion for 17-10 lead in quarter's last seconds. MIA safety Cedric Thompson had chance to be a hero on 4th-down scoring run but was not. ... Pandas within 10-9 as Fins D stiffens in the red zone. ... A man named "Aultman" just caught a pass for Miami. Preseason opener! ... Penalties, now a lost fumble. Certainly not a flawless game by Fins. ..... 2Q--MIA 10-3 on Sturgis 31Y FG after squandered drive into red zone. ... You know it's a preseason opener when you look up and notice your QB is a person named "McLeod Bethel-Thompson." He replaced Matt Moore, who replaced Tanny. ... True to expectations, most defensive starters now out, too. ..... 1Q--Defense looking stout, too, but what a dropoff in run-D when Ndamukong Suh isn't in. ... Tannehill, many other offense starters out after only one series. He was 6-for-7. Like a razor, he was. ... MIA 7-0: Bottle that drive. Save it for September. Tannehill sharp enough to overcome two holding penalties. ..... Original post: The Day of the Dolphin was a not-very-good 1973 sci-fi thriller starring George C. Scott. This is the Day of the Dolphins -- the preseason opener tonight at 1aa1adayof 1aa1adayof2Chicago that tangibly kicks off the franchise's 50th anniversary season. Will the Dolphins be very good as the buzz suggests? Let the hints begin, although whether Miami wins or loses tonight won't be much of a barometer. Exhibition openers rarely are, as I detail in today's latest column. Click on Results Don't Matter (Yet) For Dolphins, But Football's Back to read in full. Look for Dolphins starters to play only the first quarter, if that. I'd expect Ryan Tannehill goes one series, maybe two. Trained eyes will be on the guard play as a handful of contenders try to determine if Miami has two suitable starters to flank center Mike Pouncey. It also will be interesting to see Ndamukong Suh, in a new uniform, facing his longtime former division rivals, albeit briefly. Coach Joe Philbin will devote the first two exhibitions to settling his depth chart and roster, with an eye on making the third exhibition the first real we-wanna-win dress rehearsal.

JESUS! NBA'S CHRISTMAS DAY OBSESSION AGAIN RUINS MIAMI'S HOLIDAY: In the previous blogpost we 1aa1achristmasnbalisted the entire 2015-16 Heat regular-season schedule released yesterday. It includes a Heat home game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day -- a noon tipoff that will be the first of a record five NBA games played on the holiday. I can tell you from past conversations that neither NBA players nor TV announcers like working on Christmas. I know I don't. For many of us, whether it's for religious or family reasons, Christmas is a day to be home, and certainly not a day to work. Yet the NBA embraces Christmas as its own stage to a degree beyond other leagues. I wonder whether the NBA's leadership being Jewish -- David Stern to Adam Silver -- weighs anything in this league treating Christmas not as an occasion to be off but as just another play day? Hey, I'm just asking!

TENNIS SEX SCANDAL!: So Stan Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion and world's No. 5- 1aa1adonnavranked man, is playing Nick Kyrgios in the Montreal Masters last night in a heated match and, during a walk past each between sets, an open on-court mic picks up Kyrgios saying to Wawrinka, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate." The reference was to a fellow ATP player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and to Wawrinka's girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic, 19. Kyrgios did not deny what was heard, explaining Wawrinka had been getting "lippy." Wawrinka has responded angrily on Twitter, calling for the tour to discipline Kyrgios. Vekic is pictured. She may or may not be gesturing that she has two lovers, one for each hand. Ouch. Too soon?

Updated World Series odds: Out today via Bovada, Toronto Blue Jays are the new World Series favorites at 4-1. Others sub 10-1 are Royals at 5-1, Dodgers and Cardinals both 8-1 and Mets -- the Mets! -- at 9-1. Your Marlins are a tidy bargain at 2,000-to-1.

Poll result: Rousey beats Mayweather in no-holds-barred fight: Very few of our poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. We asked who'd win in a no-holds-barred, MMA-style fight, and it was Ronda Rousey over Floyd Mayweather Jr., 56.1 percent to 43.9. 

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July 12, 2015

Good news, bad news on Dolphins QB Tannehill; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): MLB screws Marlins on ASG, Riley's big summer, Serena, parade, fireworks, The Donald, Dolfans slammed; also, verdicts on Trump, Jason Pierre-Paul & more


1) It is MONDAY, JULY 13. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) #BoycottArianaGrande. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Pierre-Paul/privacy and Donald Trump/golf polls, Heat sign Stoudemire, Dolphins fans low-rated, Jose stays perfect, Luol Deng's special video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"LeBron James, featured in the new movie, Trainwreck, hosted a private VIP screening. Based on the title, I assume it's about the Cavaliers’ collapse in the recent NBA Finals?" --Greg Cote

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON TANNEHILL IN AFC EAST CONTEXT: Peter King's respected Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) website has a new ranking of all 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks by writer Andy 1aa1adolqbBenoit and it offers good news and bad news for Miami's Ryan Tannehill 1aa1adol15(pictured) both overall and also in the context of the AFC East. His ranking of No. 15 could be seen as good or bad. That's mid-pack overall, but the synopsis of Tannehill reads, "An underappreciated athlete and good pure passer who has progressed every year in his career." He's clearly on the ascent, and outranks the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler. More good news: Two division-rival starters are at dregs-level: Jets' Geno Smith at 27th and Bills' Matt Cassel at a dead-last 32nd. The bad news? Guess who's No. 1? Good guess. Patriots' Tom Brady. Click here for the full rankings.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. BASEBALL: All-Star Game, Home Run Derby on deck: The 86th All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cincinnati, with no Marlins playing thanks to Giancarlo Stanton and now Dee Gordon both being injured. The Home Run Derby is tonight, though diminished without Stanton and Bryce Harper. The danger in Cincy hosting? Pete Rose runs onto field past security and demands an at-bat.

2. HEAT: Miami adds Stoudemire and Green, shines in summer ball: Another strong week for the Heat as Miami signed veteran forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire and three-point specialist Gerald Green (both cheap) and the Heat’s youth squad finished 5-0 in the Orlando Summer League. Pat Riley hasn’t had a better summer since 2010.

3. MARLINS: Gordon injured, Fish fuming over ASG replacement snub: Jose Fernandez improved to 2-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery (and 14-0 all-time at home) but team slogged into All-Star break with third-worst record in MLB despite two nice wins in a row. Now there is speculation Mat Latos, Dan Haren and others may be traded before July 31 deadline. Oh, and Dee Gordon's injury leaves Miami 0-for-2 on All-Stars who'll actually play, after Gordon was replaced by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, not Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria. That's a bit too literal on "adding insult to injury."

4. TENNIS: Serena wins fourth straight major, Djokovic tops Wimbledon men: Wimbledon wrapped yesterday with Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in a heavyweight men's final. Saturday, Serena Williams completed the “Serena Slam” by winning her fourth major in a row. She beat Garbine Muguruza, who evidently is a rising young Venezuelan even though Greg Cote had never heard of her.

5. SOCCER: America still celebrating women’s World Cup win: The symbolic culmination of last week’s third U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship and first since 1999 came Friday with a ticker-tape parade along New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.” There are so many great players on that champions’ roster. Hey, maybe they could loan a few to the U.S. men’s team!

6. FIREWORKS: Two NFL players lose fingers in mishaps: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (one) and Bucs CB C.J. Wilson (two) lost fingers in Fourth of July fireworks mishaps. It's relentless. NFL players -- along with FSU players and athletes in general -- keep providing lessons in how not to behave.

7. DONALD TRUMP: PGA Tour mulling Trump controversy: The PGA Tour and other golf entities weigh whether to divest from Trump-owned courses (such as Doral) over his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants. One possible solution: Trump avoids that by buying the entire sport of golf.
8. DOLPHINS: Miami fans slammed in new study: 

A study by Atlanta’s Emory University ranked Dolphins fans 32nd — dead last in the NFL — in a “fan-equity ranking” measuring willingness to financially support their team. Um, you don't need a college degree (or study) to know that 30 years between Super Bowl appearances can do that.



9. UM FOOTBALL: Adidas plans uniform unveiling: A

didas plans a lavish VIP party this coming Saturday at trendy Club Liv to unveil the Hurricanes’ new football uniforms. I wish I were kidding. Remember when you didn’t know — or care — who made your team’s uniforms? And that when you said your team “looked good” you meant winning, not sartorial splendor?
10. GOLF: British Open to miss its defending champion: It starts in three 

days at St. Andrews in Scotland, but without defending champ Rory McIlroy, who hurt his ankle playing pickup soccer. Meanwhile Tiger Woods tries (again) for his first major win since 2008. Headline: 'Old Tiger seeks old form on The Old Course.'


Missing the HB10 cut: DeAndre Jordan jilts Mavericks, stays with Clippers. Carnival's Cuba cruises and impact on Micky Arison. Michael Irvin Jr. commits to Canes. NHL Panthers seeks arena lease relief from Broward County. ESPN won't re-sign Keith Olbermann. U.S. men's soccer in Gold Cup. (Who knew we had a men's team, too!?) And the Tour de France enters its final week. First cyclist to pass both the finish line and a doping test wins.

Poll result: Mixed feelings but mostly support for Trump: We asked if the PGA Tour should disassociate itself from Donald Trump-owned courses because of his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants and it was 56.2 percent no and 41.4% yes, with 2.4% undecided.

Poll result: Blame targets hospital in Jason Pierre-Paul matter: We asked who was to blame for the Giants defensive end's medical records being leaked after his fireworks accident and 54.4 percent blamed both Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital (for leaking) and ESPN's Adam Schefter (for disseminating). But 28.8% mostly blamed Jackson vs. only 8.9% who mostly blamed Schefter. The other 8.0% blamed no one.

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July 08, 2015

Carnival cruises to Cuba and impact on Heat owner Micky Arison: New poll. Vote now!; plus ESPN 'Body' issue poll, Fins seat sale, Pat Riley's motivation, new Dolphins 'n Canes betting odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women reign, ESPN's 'Body,' Marlins All-Stars, LeBatard on 'Ballers,' Hot Button Top 10, Dwyane vs. Jose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too (with a new 'Scope vid from yesterday's radio show).

Fins seat auction is today: Dolphins today are offering limited number of assembled seats and seatbacks for purchase. Seats were removed during stadium reconstruction. Proceeds from auction will benefit Miami Dolphins Foundation. Single and double seats are available; visit to bid or for more info. Seats will be sold to season-ticket holders first (limit two per account) beginning at 11 a.m., then to others starting at 2 p.m., subject to availability.

An ode to Serena Williams: U.S. women's soccer flares across the sky as newly minted champions and deserves the applause, but look to the very pinnacle of American women's sports and who you see is Serena Williams. Click on Miss America for my latest column.

HOW DO HEAT FANS FEEL ABOUT CARNIVAL CRUISING TO CUBA?: Three facts, and how they might collide: Fact 1--Carnival Cruise Lines has won U.S. government approval to begin excursions to Cuba, as 1aa1aarisondetailed in this Miami Herald story. Fact 2--Doral-based Carnival Corporation is chaired by and a huge part of Micky Arison's $7.1 billion net worth. Fact 3--Arison (pictured aboard one of his ships) also owns the Miami Heat, many of whose fans are Cubans who do not approve of the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations because of their anti-Castro feelings. So, the question: Should the Heat owner's primary enterprise doing business with Cuba have a negative impact on how fans view him as a basketball team owner? I say no. I happen to support better relations with Cuba, and cruise traffic there was an inevitability, so Arison is doing smart business. Nor do I believe that all Cubans in South Florida might object; though some surely do. Let's get a rough idea how that breaks down with this pulse-read. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

NARCISSISM ON STEROIDS: ESPN'S ANNUAL 'BODY' ISSUE: Athletes love their bodies because their bodies are what make them rich and famous. Unless they are blowing up their hand misusing fireworks on the Fourth of July, athletes are famous for proudly taking care of their bods. Get all that. What I 1aa1awawrinka 1aa1acoughlindon't get is the comically outsized narcissism reflected in ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue, the seventh annual of which is out this week. Like, famous athletes don't get enough figurative exposure so they need the literal kind, too? Like, Bryce Harper doesn't have time to enter the Home Run Derby but he has time to get nekkid for ESPN? It's funny how the line has blurred. A top female athlete posing in Playboy would be lambasted for exploiting her sexuality and setting a bad example for young girls. But that same athlete going au naturale for ESPN is celebrated for being proud of her body. (Pictured left: Tennis player Stan Wawrinka. At right: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin). It's funny to me how ESPN fires a preemptive strike against any criticism that they are promoting only the perfect image of perfect bodies. They do this with the annual token inclusion of imperfect bodies. This year that includes three Colts linemen and a heavy female Olympian. Dear Athletes: Being proud of your bodies fully clothed would be just fine. A little modesty would be something to consider. But I may be wrong. Take a dip in our poll and share your overall view of ESPN's annual 'Body' issue.

RILEY'S REVENGE? HEAT PREZ IS COMING AFTER LEBRON: Last time it was to sign him. This time it's to 1aa1abig2beat him. That's a theory ESPN's Stephen A. Smith espoused on WQAM's Freeman & Fox Show, and it makes some sense. (Riley and LeBron are pictured in happier days). What follows is condensed, because Stephen A. is monumentally verbose: "Pat Riley I believe is coming for LeBron James. I believe Riley would have retired at the end of this [past] season had it not been for LeBron deciding to leave Miami. I think that has lit a fire under Riley we haven’t seen in some time. I think he is hell-bent on returning Miami to its glory and showing LeBron that [leaving was] not the way to go. I think Riley is going to do everything [he can to show] that LeBron made a mistake leaving the Heat. I think that’s a huge motivation." It is. That's why I wrote recently that getting to the Eastern Conference finals and beating Cleveland would be tantamount to an NBA Finals for Miami and almost parade-worthy for Riley and the Heat.

WEIGHING THE FISH (80 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's WTF after 80 games (actually 83 at 35-48; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @70

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                309.1    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   251.0   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

5  Martin Prado              201.5   5

6  Christian Yelich        194.3   7

7  Jacob Realmuto         178.5    6

8  Justin Bour                 165.9   9

9  Ichiro Suzuki              129.9   8

10  Michael Morse           91.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 5, Gordon 2.

UPDATED DOLPHINS, HURRICANES BETTING ODDS; KAAYA HONORED: From Bovada, the Packers 1aa1abkaayaare your new Super Bowl favorite at 6-1 odds, with Seahawks displaced to 13-2, followed by Colts 8-1 and Patriots 9-1. Dolphins sit at 33-1, tied for 12th. In college football, latest win over/unders have the Hurricanes at only 6, which I'd call surprisingly low and a bargain play at 'over'. (One reason I think that: QB Brad Kaaya, pictured, who yesterday was named to  the preseason Maxwell Award watch-list). Other state win over/unders: FSU 9.5, Florida 7.5, UCF 7, FIU 5.5, FAU 5 and South Florida 4.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...